A posy of language posts

If you’re a lawyer presenting an oral argument before Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court, never, ever use the word choate. No, not the name Choate (rhymes with “boat”), which graces a Connecticut prep school and the great 19th-century jurist Rufus Choate. The taboo term is choate (pronounced KOH-it or KOH-ate), an adjective defined by Webster’s New World Law Dictionary as “completed or perfected in and of itself” and formed as the opposite of inchoate (“commenced but not completed, partially done”).

Ben Zimmer in the NYT (and note: another ever-useful Wodehouse quote. “If not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.”


But adverbs come in many shapes and sizes .., so it’s worth looking at each type to see which are the worst offenders – and which are harder to do without.

Michael Rundell on Macmillan Dictionary blog


In 1813, a much-beloved English author published a much-beloved English book: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which is, at the time of writing, quoted over 200 times in the OED. Austen’s novel has also provided us with current first usage of many words, including stuffy (in the sense lacking in freshness, interest, or smartness) and thing (meaning a significant, notable, or sensational circumstance), as well as the phrases ‘is (or was) not to be’ and ‘to ask too much’.

Which words came to life 200 years ago?” on Oxford Words blog




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